God’s deliverance did not end there in the arena.
I awoke back in a cell underneath the Coliseum. I knew it from the sounds and smells, the hard earth and straw beneath my back, knew where they had left me. Also I knew that night still held sway over the land, for I could sense the moon in the sky, unseen beyond the concrete ceiling. But I had changed back, a man once more. This had never happened before. Always I had remained in the form of the Cynocephalus until daybreak. I could not believe it.
I heard footsteps outside my cell. With my eyes accustomed to the dark, it took a moment for them to adjust when a candle winked to life beyond the bars.
“Keep your voice down, Christopher.”
“What’s happened?” I asked.
“I now believe, Christopher. I believe in your God. I believed even before what I saw tonight in the Coliseum. When I came to you last night and you rejected me, when I saw your concern for those people, a concern so great it crippled you.”
“In the arena, I didn’t kill anyone?”
“The people are now demanding the release of the captives. They all saw what happened, and they are afraid. The Emperor is afraid of them. He will do what they say, although he is giving the credit to Jupiter. He says that Jupiter has decreed that the prisoners should live. But there are many among the witnesses tonight who know, as I do, that it is your Christ and not the Emperor’s Jupiter who is to receive the credit. Many will come to believe, as I have.”
I heard the rattle of keys in her hand.
“I am setting you free, Christopher. There is a man I know. He will hide you in his house. And there are others. We will sneak you out of the city.”
She unlocked the door of my cage. As Daniel, I found myself freed after my night of trial, no matter that I comprised in my one flesh both the prophet and the beast.
“God’s hand is on you, Christopher. You must not remain here. There is something great you must accomplish. Go and do it, and go with my eternal gratitude, for you have shown me the true path to follow!”
I could only weep, ashamed of my doubt. I did flee from Rome. I am told the Emperor’s grasp on power loosened that very night, and that he never regained it. I credit God alone.
I left the gilded Babylon never to return. I left it as a changed man. Always I had been a man who wanted to believe more than one who did believe in actuality.
I would never doubt again.